Monthly Archives: February 2010

Gluten Free Forty Days: Day Two

Going through my cooking notebooks can sometimes be torture.  More often than not, I’ll forget to write in a crucial ingredient or technique. Re-creating a dish can become an arduous cycle of test-fail-trash-start over. It’s a pain; throwing away food is expensive and wasteful. On the other hand, every so often I come across a couple of pages of notes that are thorough enough that I can make a cohesive recipe out of it, so it can be easily re-created. It also happens that this recipe is completely gluten free, making it perfect for GF40.

Day two of GF40 is all about this hearty gluten free lasagna, made without uncommon pastas or ingredients that are expensive or hard to find. I made this delicious rendition of lasagna several months ago, after being inspired by a similar recipe I found online. I used Shitake mushrooms in substitution of ground meat, which provide a rich woody flavor. The zucchini gives the dish a smoky overtone that is well complemented by the creaminess of the eggplant and the feta. I hope you enjoy this lasagna explosion as much as I did!

Lasagna On Portobello:

Assemble the following:

  • Shitake Mushrooms, fine chop
  • Roasted Zucchini
  • Roasted Eggplant
  • Fresh Scallion, finely chopped
  • Fresh Parsley, julienned
  • Garlic, finely minced
  • Feta Cheese Crumbles
  • Fire Roasted Roma Tomato Marinara (Kitchen Essentials)
  • Large, Fresh Portobello Mushroom Caps , cleaned, stems removed
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Do this with it:

  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Heat a few TBSP olive oil and sauté garlic. When golden, reduce heat to very low and add scallion and parsley, cook until parsley has wilted.
  • Add Marinara. Heat slowly.
  • Add Shitake mushrooms, cook briefly until mushrooms are reduced.
  • Remove from heat and to separate container, allow to cool
  • In baking dish greased with Olive Oil place Portobello Caps hollow sides up.
  • Create layers of Feta, marinara, vegetables and parmesan.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake in preheated oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

For tips on roasting Zucchini

For tips on roasting Eggplant

Fire Roasted Roma Tomato Marinara Recipe

Notes and Abstract:

  • Roast the eggplant until it is still slightly firm. Roasting too much will yield a mushy eggplant, which does have it’s uses just not in this preparation. If you’re using a large eggplant, pull one half from the oven while it’s still semi-firm. Let the other half roast fully, then toss it in a blender or food processor with some fresh minced garlic for a great puree that can be used to cream up mashed potatoes, embolden a soup, or any number of things. The puree will store well for a few days, but I wouldn’t recommend freezing it.
  • Be sure the Portobello caps are very clean and dry. Briefly bathe them in slightly salty water and pat dry with a towel. For more room for more layers use a paring knife to carefully score the underside of the cap in a diagonal pattern, and remove the ribs gently with a spoon. Be careful not to scoop too much out, just remove the ribs.
  • If you aren’t a vegetarian, forget the shitake mushrooms. Use some high quality ground beef or poultry. Better yet, get a decent cut of steak and slice it into thin strips and cook in the marinara until rare. It will cook through to done in the oven, or if you like your steak less done, add it as a layer all by itself.
  • The Marinara can be made into different things by virtue of the fact that it takes on the flavor of the spices used in it. For this recipe use your favorite fresh Italian or Mediterranean herbs in the marinara.

Gluten Free Forty Days: Day One

A friend of mine is giving up gluten for Lent. My younger brother was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue when he was 18 months old, more than twenty years ago. Anyone who’s ever lived with someone restricted to a gluten free diet knows how hard it can be to find interesting and varied meal choices, and how frustrating this can be. It does take some extra work, a lot of patience and a lot of label reading, but I promise it can be done. It can even be done on a strict budget, my mother proved this.

Over the next forty days I will be posting at least one gluten free meal a day. Theme here on The Reckless Culinarian has been Vegetarian since mid-September. Not all of the recipes in the Gluten Free 40 will be vegetarian, in fact a great many of them will not be.

Day one of the GF40 is kicked off with a hearty casserole dinner by G.F. Veg at Wheatless and Meatless.  Pair this with your favorite veggies, or a side salad and you have a healthy, filling meal. If I weren’t a vegetarian I would most likely add some fresh, grass-fed ground beef to the casserole. Since I am, I would load this sucker down with portobello and shitake mushrooms. Either way, I’ve tried a great many recipes from Wheatless and Meatless and I can personally attest that it always tastes great!

Day One:

Down With Social Media

Okay, okay, I know. Blogging is technically a form of social media. But lets face it: my use of my blog pales in comparison to the way I use Facebook and Twitter. I spend so much time checking, posting, checking, analyzing… it’s just not worth it anymore. So, last night around ten thirty I (ceremoniously) closed the Facebook tab in my browser and pared my Hootsuite columns down to only deliver breaking news from reliable sources on Twitter. I turned both services off on my phone. I closed Trillian, so I will no longer get desktop notifications from Facebook, Twitter, or any instant messages.

I’m not Catholic. Nor am I at all religious, but I’m giving up Facebook and Twitter for Lent. I’m sure it wont last forty days, in fact I’d bet money it won’t last a week. Still, it’s worth a try. I hope expect I’ll find much more to do on the internet instead of obsessing over my own vanity, who’s replying to my tweets and wall posts, and who’s clicking my links. My digital persona has become too overwhelming for me to handle any more. “Digital Michael” has begun to overtake the real me.  By abandoning what amounts to about seventy percent of online life I’ll be able to re-focus what “Digital Michael” does on something that complements the real me, instead of the other way around.

What are you giving up for Lent?

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean Soup

Five Alarm Potato and Black Bean SoupA very spicy Black Bean and Potato Soup. It’s easy to prepare, and stores well frozen or refrigerated.  Served in small portions, this soup makes a great compliment to any Mexican/Southwestern meal. It’s hearty, but so spicy it’ll make your ears tingle.  Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to reduce the intensity of the spice.

Assemble the following:

  • 1/8 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 CL Garlic (Fine Mince)
  • 1/4 C. White Onion (Fine Mince)
  • 2 TBSP. White Onion (Coarse Chop)
  • 1/4 C. Celery Leaves (Coarse Chop)
  • 2 TBSP Celery (Coarse Chop)
  • 3 TBSP. Recaito
  • 5 TSP. Crushed Dried Red Pepper
  • 1 TBSP. Paprika
  • 1 TBSP. Dried Marjoram
  • 1/4 LB. Russet Potatoes (Peeled, Cubed to 1/4 inch, Par-Boiled and rinsed cold.)
  • 2 C. Stewed Tomatoes (Drained)
  • 2 Cans Reduced Sodium Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Do this with it:

  • Bring 1 1/4 QT water to boil, add 3 TSP red pepper, salt and pepper, marjoram and boil until reduce to 1 QT.
  • Heat the Olive Oil and Recaito and add minced garlic, onion, 2 TSP red pepper, and chopped celery leaves.  Sauté until tender and aromatic.
  • Drain tomatoes, coat in paprika, chop.
  • Add sautéed aromatics to water, and reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, coarse chopped onion and celery.
  • Simmer until potatoes are tender, about thirty minutes.

What did I have for Christmas Dinner??

Today I was asked (after explaining my diet) “Well what on EARTH did you eat for Christmas Dinner?!?”She got all dramatic and animated with the word “Earth,”  thus the emphasis.

Rosemary Speared Salmon.
Fresh Green Beans, with Hollandaise.
Oyster Stuffing.
Mixed Green Salad with toasted garbanzo and avocado.

The point is you don’t have to eat a bunch of over-processed trash to enjoy the holidays.

My Plate

Vegetarian Burgoo

Traditional Burgoo is thought to have originated in Kentucky, and traditionally contains a combination of meats (usually small game such as rabbit or squirrel) with savory vegetables and potatoes. A very thick and hearty stew, Burgoo is a great way to end a frigid day out in the ice and can be created out of practically anything and therefore out of practically nothing. For example, if you live in Central North Carolina like me and like me failed to properly stock your pantry for the ice storm for which you were given ample warning, you can make Burgoo!

There isn’t really a standard recipe for Burgoo; it calls for only three things: meat, savory veggies, and a thickening agent. (I think Alton Brown, Food Network taught me that?) This sort of freedom beckons to my inner chef, I can basically create whatever I want and not have to worry about coming up with a name for it.

For this reckless take on Burgoo, I deconstructed the idea of what the traditional dish is. Potatoes are in most preparations, and I didn’t want to leave them out but I didn’t want boiled soggy potatoes in the stew proper, I wanted roasted and crisp potatoes as a base for a very thick preparation of pasta and beans, without meat. All told, like most of my creations this doesn’t look or taste a thing like what it’s called. However, it does have this in common with what a true Kentuckian would expect: it’s delicious, and the spoon does stand up in it!

Assemble the Following:

  • 1 CL Garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Leek Heart (Just the tender light green and white parts) about 1 C, julienned. Reserve the rest of the leek as well, minced.
  • 1 Celery Stick, julienned
  • 2 Marinated Artichoke Hearts (Liquid Reserved), minced
  • 1 Qt Mushroom Fumet (Stock)
  • 16 Oz Each of Garbanzo and Kidney beans
  • 1 1/4 C Orzo
  • 3 Large Red Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Recaito
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp each of Dried Cilantro, Thyme and Sage
  • Crushed Red Pepper to Taste

Do This With it:
Red potatoes take forever to do anything especially roast, so get those out of the way and in the oven they will be in there for at least an hour, plenty of time to put together the rest of the stew.

  • Uniformly dice the potatoes into one inch cubes, soak in cool water seasoned with salt and pepper for at least fifteen minutes. Reserve this water.
  • Sautee julienned savory leek hearts and celery until tender in 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and Recaito until tender. Deglaze with Artichoke Marinade Liquid.
  • Drain oil from savory veggies and reserve. Discard Veggies.
  • Toss Potatoes in reserved oil until evenly coated and arrange in single layer on VERY well greased baking pan.
  • Bake in oven preheated to 400° oven until crisp on the outside.
  • Divide mushroom stock into thirds, and soak cooked beans in 1/3.
  • In a stock pot sauté the artichoke hearts, garlic and minced leeks.
  • Add a cup or two of the potato water, and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and add dried Cilantro, Thyme, Sage.
  • Combine beans and stock into the stock pot.
  • Add Orzo and simmer until cooked and tender.
  • Will render a very thick stew. Use remaining stock to thin the stew if you like.


  • In a shallow bowl, create a nest of potatoes.
  • Top with stew and drizzle with a little broth.
  • Sprinkle with Feta or some other soft cheese.
  • Garnish with leek greens and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

  • You end up with a lot of this stuff (like in the neighborhood of 32 cups after a couple servings)

  • I also had 2/3 of a qt of Stock thawed… I divided the Burgoo and combined it with the rest of the stock.
    • TADA! A quart of soup!